Industry veterans recognized for their contributions

ACM Siggraph presents its awards for exceptional achievement in CG and interactive techniques during its 2023 conference.

Ruchika Saini

Siggraph 2023 saw the forthcoming generation of pioneers making their marks in the industry. As a result of their contributions to the fields of computer graphics and interactive techniques over the years, nine people were honored with ACM Siggraph awards across select categories. The recipients were selected by various committees.

Siggraph Logo

What do we think?
In an industry where people are constantly breaking barriers and developing new technologies and techniques, and encouraging the next generation, it is no small feat to stand out among so many giants. Often this is done quietly, with the attention on the ground-breaking efforts and results, and not on the person responsible for the work. The awards committees assumed the difficult task of selecting this year’s recipients, so hats off to them for their work, as well. And a big congratulations to the new winners, whose names will stand alongside other significant contributors from years prior.

ACM Siggraph recognizes nine exceptional industry achievements

From film and visual effects, to academia and art, to hardware and software, the annual Siggraph conference and exhibition provides a platform for innovators in the industry to showcase their exceptional contributions. Each year at the conference, ACM Siggraph honors its members (researchers, practitioners, artists, and educators), presenting nine awards in recognition of exceptional achievements in computer graphics and interactive techniques. The winners are chosen by a selection committee, and the process is supervised by an awards committee chair, a position held this year by John Hughes, professor of computer science at Brown University.

Recipients of the ACM Siggraph 2023 awards are:

Steven Anson Coons Award: This award for outstanding creative contributions to computer graphics is presented in odd-numbered years to honor an individual who has made a lifetime contribution to computer graphics and interactive techniques. The award includes a $6,000 cash prize and a specially commissioned statue. This year the honor goes to Marie Paule Cani for her outstanding contributions to computer graphics in shape modeling, computer animation, and content creation tools. Cani is a professor of computer science at Ecole Polytechnique, France. She has served as the Siggraph Technical Papers Chair in 2017, chair of the Eurographics Association, and a member of the Siggraph executive committee.

Names of winners
Previous recipients of the prestigious Steven Anson Coons Award.

Outstanding Service Award: ACM Siggraph recognizes Yong Tsui (YT) Lee for his nearly three decades of service to computer graphics community in Asia. He founded and nurtured the Siggraph Asia conference. He is an associate professor at the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He says meeting people from diverse backgrounds is the best part of attending Siggraph and wants to spread the Siggraph brand to a wider audience.

Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award: Cheng Zhang has been given the award for a dissertation presenting significant advances in physics-based rendering and providing both practical tools and theoretical foundations for future differentiable rendering algorithms. The focus of his dissertation revolves around the introduction of an innovative physics-based differentiable rendering framework known as path-space differentiable rendering. He is a research scientist at Meta Reality Labs and continues to work on advancing algorithms for differentiable rendering, with a strong emphasis on practical applications.

Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement in Digital Art: The recipient of this prestigious award, Paul Brown, was one of the first British artists to start using computers in his art. Brown pursues his work in the traditions of Constructivism, De Stijl, Art Concret, and Conceptual & Systems Art. His main focus has been developing “bottom-up” AI or A-Life systems, earning him an international reputation as a pioneer of this art genre.

ACM Siggraph Practitioner Award: Ken Museth of Nvidia is the recipient of this year’s award for the creation and continued development of OpenVDB. Museth is the founder of OpenVDB and chair of the OpenVDB Technical Steering Committee. He has spent last 10 years expanding OpenVDB and developing a robust community to support it. OpenVDB is an industry-standard library for manipulating sparse dynamic volumes, which are used by VFX studios for creating realistic volumetric images such as water/liquid simulations and environmental effects like clouds and ice.

ACM Siggraph Distinguished Educator Award: A semiretired professor emeritus of computer science at Georgia State University, Scott Owen is recognized for his work to establish influential educational programs and provide opportunities for educators in and beyond the Siggraph community. This is Dr. Owen’s second major Siggraph award; he won the outstanding service award in 2018. He became chair of the Siggraph education committee in 1990, joined the executive committee in 1992, and later became director of education at Siggraph.

Computer Graphics Achievement Award: Wolfgang Heidrich gets this awards for the development and analysis of computational imaging and HDR display systems. Heidrich and his colleagues in the Computational Imaging Group develop novel sensing and display technologies by combining computer graphics, machine vision, imaging, inverse methods, optics, and perception. Presently, the group is focused on end-to-end learned imaging systems, increasing the complexity of the optical design space and expanding the methodology to fully automate the design of complex optical systems, instead of individual components.

Significant New Researcher Award: Felix Heide, a former PhD student in Heidrich’s group at the University of British Colombia, Canada, and now an assistant professor of computer science at Princeton University, has received this award for fundamental contributions to the development and analysis of computational imaging and display systems. Researching vision systems end-to-end, his work stands at the intersection of optics, machine learning, optimization, computer graphics, and computer vision.

ACM Siggraph Academy Class Award: The award honors a group of individuals who have made substantial contributions to the field of computer graphics and in helping to shape the industry. David J.  Kasik is being recognized for his technical contribution and industry impact in CAD, user interfaces, visual analytics, and massive model visualization. He is joined in this honor with Niloy Mitra, recognized for his pioneering technical contributions in shape analysis and structure-aware geometry processing. He has previously received the 2013 ACM Siggraph Significant New Researcher Award for his outstanding work in the discovery and utilization of structure and function in 3D objects.